Tuesday, August 15, 2017
My favorite scene from my favorite show
As some of you know, my favorite TV show ever is "Freaks and Geeks," the short-lived (one season-- 1999-2000) creation of Judd Apatow and Paul Feig that launched the careers of Seth Rogan, James Franco, Jason Siegel and others. Part of my affection is probably derived from the fact that the show is about going to high school in a Detroit suburb in 1980, which is exactly what I did.
But it is also a great show, even now. Yesterday, the New York Times surprised me by running a piece in the Arts section describing in detail my favorite scene in that show:
A little setup: Bill Haverchuck (Martin Starr) is having a terrible time of it. He's a latchkey kid. He’s horrible in phys-ed class. And he learns, in this episode, that his mom is seriously dating his gym teacher, whom he hates.
First, the music. “I’m One” by the Who, from the 1973 album “Quadrophenia.” It builds from mournfulness (“I’m a loser / No chance to win”) to a defiant chorus. And it's a great example of how “Freaks and Geeks” chose its soundtracks. The episode is set in 1981, but it avoids on-the-nose ’80s-song choices. Paul Feig, the show’s creator, once told me that the thing about the early ’80s in the Midwest was that they were really still the ’70s....
Bill turns on the tube just as Dinah Shore introduces the stand-up comic Garry Shandling. The “Freaks and Geeks” producer Judd Apatow — who once said this was the most personal scene he had ever made — had been a “comedy geek” as a kid and later worked with Shandling on “The Larry Sanders Show.”...
One thing I love about “Freaks and Geeks” is that it understands how much pop culture means to teenagers — whether they’re comedy geeks or sci-fi geeks or heavy-metal geeks or Dungeons and Dragons geeks. Pop culture is not just about entertainment; it’s also about identity and community, finding your people.
This scene may be the purest expression of that. It takes you from melancholy to sheer delight in 90 seconds.